Green Belt and Road workshop
On 20 November 2017, I participated in a Workshop on Belt and Road Green Development, hosted by the Center for Global Energy Policy of Columbia University, in cooperation with China’s Renmin University. The Guidance on Promoting Green Belt and Road released by the Chinese government in May 2017 emphasized the Chinese government’s aim to promote environmental protection and low-carbon development under the Belt and Road Initiative. The aim of this workshop was to examine the extent to which this ambition is likely to be fulfilled. The workshop was attended by senior officials and scholars from China, as well as scholars, policy analysists, NGOs, industry associations and corporations from outside China.
The workshop comprised four sessions: an overview of Green Development within the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, renewable energy, fossil fuel development, and implications for capital markets. I spoke in the session on fossil fuel development raising two main points: that Chinese companies are still investing heavily in overseas coal and oil resources, and that these companies have shown very little interest in engaging with international collaborative efforts to raise standards of transparency and of environmental and social management.
As might have been expected, there were significant differences of emphasis and opinion between the Chinese participants and the others. Nevertheless, much light was thrown on the challenges facing the Green Belt and Road Initiative.